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marriage and chronic illness


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Hi, I am strongly considering starting a local support group for those with chronic illness. One topic I really want to cover is the effect chronic illness has on marriage. I would appreciate some thoughts regarding how some marriages do survive this hugely stressful event and some specific things couples can do to maintain intimacy and committment when one partner is sick. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thank you!

Carmen

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I understand your wanting to do this. Maybe get a group going for the ill and then thier significant others. I have a fiance and due to my disability with this they have told us we cannot get married. We are both okay wtih it at this moment. The only thing is that we have a different view than most couples. When we met I was an at home sickie and now in the past year I have gotten better, got my license back and returned to school. It was his adjusting to me feeling better, not being sick, but it is still a hard adjusment for both of us. I hope you get the support group going.

Shelby

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If I ever made a good decision in my life it was to marry my husband. We have been together for nearly 8 years and married for 3 years. My health over the years has just got worst. Something that is very important to Mario is that I talk to him. He wants to know how I am feeling and what is going on. He supports me emotional so much. Especially on days when I am down. Financially he pays for all my medication. At one stage this cost him a fortune and he never moans. My body is very entertain and never gives me a dull moment. As soon as one-problem stops the other starts. He is right behind me all the way. He lets me rest when I have to. Reminds me what I should not be eating. He carries me when I am very sick and rushes me to doctors. Days were I think he is ignoring me and does not know how I feel. He will just starting talking to me about my health. Confirming to me that he feels and hears everything that I am going through. I just can?t imagine life with out my husband.

The only area that he does not support me is the dishes. But he has promised to buy me a dishwasher as soon as we can afford it. My doctor has advice me to make quick/easy meals. He does not cook at all. No matter how sick I feel I have to make supper. Which is actually a good thing. I know if I lye down some days I wont get up. My husband works 11-hour days 6 days a week. So I cant blame him. But that is the only negative thing I can comment on. At the moment I am angry that my health cost me so much money. I am 27 years old and should be buying things for my home. But No I am seeing doctor after doctor. Fixing one body problem after the other. When will it end? We only have a hospital plan due to my health. I deplete medical funds to quickly with all my medical problems.

The longer I know my husband the more I love him. Being married to him is the best part of my life. :P

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Guest tearose

Carmen, I didn't have the strength to form a chronic illness support group but had wished that there was one out there! Good for you for trying to get one going, I am sure that many others would join!

I think because of my husband and I having a good commitment/marriage, any lapses in intimacy for reasons of fatigue or symptom flare was not a problem. We have two sons and were often tired from "regular life activities" so a cuddle and hug would often carry us over. I think the key to a healthy, happy marriage is the same for those with or without chronic illness...have excellent communication.

best regards, tearose

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Hi Carmen - My husband and I have been together for 11 years ( married almost 3).. He has been with me since the beginning of my illness and has seen the ins and outs.

Its definetly a struggle sometimes to maintain a "normal" relationship when I am in a cycle of not feeling well.

When I am not in an episode we make the best of those times and do whatever we can... travel, go out to a nice dinner, have family, friends, spend the day together doing something fun, etc etc...

When I am in a flare we do things like rent movies, get take out, lower key things.

I am lucky to have myhusband. He has been my rock all these years and still is.

He is a wonderful person, and I also think that growing up around a mother who was chronically ill gave him tremendous understanding. He gets it when one day I feel great and the next not up to doing much.

We are actually spending our 3rd anniversary at Mayo Clinic ( what fun!!)

I was bummed about it, but we will make the best of it.

I guess the advise I could give you is that you both have to be open , talk about the things that bother you as well as the things that you enjoy...

Set realistic goals together such as when having a good day you will both take a walk etc....

and a bad day you will rent movies....

I think what breaks any relationship down sick or not is lack of communication and lack of respect and support for each other. as long as you keep that , I think you can get through anything.

Take Care :P

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Awesome replies everyone! I love the positive reassuring vibe coming from these posts- I almost cried. However, I know not all endings are happy. So, if you feel comfortable out there- let me know some things I can share with others that work and don't work when illness is the third member of a marriage. Thanks a ton!

PS. Yes, I am married and know the emotional and financial strain very well. We have been married for seven years and joke we have had our seven years of "for poorer and in illness" now it is time "for richer and in health"!

Carmen

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Carmen ,

I echo the sentiments. We have been married for 18 years 5 Kids. During our Marriage we have enjoyed a wonderful life with the ability to make descions that have gifted us time with each other and our children. In retrospect pretty smart or just lucky. I would not Have survived without MY WIFE -- PERIOD. the strain was , at times , to much to bear ; only because we cared so deeply for each other and our family. Being Ill you feel inately selfish and hurtful , especialy when there is nothing that can be done and you are just getting worse. The strength of a PARTNER & FAMILY then becomes the power beyond anything. It is the vehicle that drives you to keep going. We realised it was not the destination but the JOURNEY - JOUR (DAY) everyday that mattered. We would use this crescendo of power daily. So now its as Somerset Maughm exclaims - each life makes its own imitation of immortality - We happen to immitate each other , thus to be a legacy unbreakable by a simple illness

Slainte` Kite7

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I have been married for almost 6 years. When we married Hubby was the sick one - he has a head injury from a plane crash in 1990. As I got sick he has been there for me. I have gone from being the breadwinner to being the sick one. He has been the greatest! Now we are both home all the time - have been for 2 years now. Intimacy?? We are usually both too tired! Cooking? If you can't do it in a microwave than forget it! Support group? Great idea - I know that not everyone is as fortunate as I am.

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